Almost busted on the Gulf beach ...

... innocent and NOT proven guilty

from Don Norris

It all happened a few years ago when Lorry and I drove south to Pensacola, on the Gulf of Mexico, to see his mother's relatives -- and there are hundreds of them on the panhandle of Florida. The family is prolific.

She and I were settled in a moderate motel next to Gulf Beach State Park -- which is located on a 75-mile-long sand dune at the edge of Gulf of Mexico. Yes, it was a state park, and yes, we had no idea that there was an 8:00P.M. curfew on the beach. I mean, we were innocent visitors.

Earlier that late afternoon, we had picked up our daughter Nancy and her husband, Randy Kidwell, at the Pensacola airport. It was a dreadfully hot day, so after checking in at the motel, we decided to go to the nearby state park -- Gulf Beach.

We drove some eight miles along the oceanfront and finally stopped where the road did, locked the car -- the only one there -- and walked the fifty yards down to water's edge. It was glorious, the heat, the warm, gulf water, the late-day sunshine -- and there we were, all alone. No one else, no one on the beach, no one in sight.

The waves came in gently and spilled their water on the sand, and we relished its cooling from the Pensacola heat. It was marvelous. The beach was steep, and each wave would pick us up, then lower us back down on the sand. High tide.

It was a beautiful late afternoon, the four of us, all alone, with miles and miles of beach behind us. Up and down, the Gulf waves picked us up and dropped us down. Great fun. Talk about paradise! We laughed because it was below freezing back in Melrose.

Hey, what did we know. It was paradise.

And then we heard it. Someone had a loudspeaker and was broadcasting something in a stern voice. What'd he say, we asked each other. Then Randy climbed a sanddune and spoted the police car, parked next to my car.

"Will the owner of this brown Buick come immediately to the parking lot" the garbled voice said.

"It's the police," Randy said, "He wants us back to the car." So we gathered up our gear and trudged the 50 yards through the dunes, back to the Buick.

Sure enough, it was the fuzz, all decked out in a tan uniform, a six-shooter strapped to his belt. "You the owner of this car?," he asked me. "Yes. we've just arrived from Boston and are enjoying the gulf waters."

"Do you know that the park closes at eight p.m.?", he asked.

"No," I said, "the lady in the booth didn't say anything about closing. She was happy to get our entrance money."

He looked unconvinced.

"Open the trunk, please," he asked. It was really an order. There was nothing but a spare tire and tools in the trunk, and I could see the officer relax slightly, to remove his hand off the butt of his gun.

He did chew us out, explaining that a small aircraft would fly along the beach and drop their loads into the sea, just off-shore. The bad guys would swim out to get the floating bundles, load the loot into their car, and scoot.


We were told we'd have 15 minutes to get out of the park, then he got in his squadcar and left. Needless to say we jumped into the Buick and followed him at a comfortable distance. I have to admit that I was relieved to pass through the exit back at the toll booth.

And I was very glad that the four of us didn't end up in a Southern jug. We four drove back to the nearby motel, poured a couple of drinks, and counted our blessings.

And then we went swimming in the nice pool.

June 3, 2016

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